Learning from Annie: Duncan’s Personal Account


“Although our culture tends to shrink yoga to mean only the physical, asana element I believe that yoga truly is a shamanic path, capable of leading us through transformation on all levels. Yoga reminds us what is real, and thus who we are — the light radiating from within.”

– Annie Carpenter

duncan annieHow often do we get to study with teachers who have been actively practicing yoga virtually every single day for 40 or more years, and continue to have a strong daily yoga practice to date?

Annie Carpenter is one of these special and rare teachers and I had the pleasure of studying with her in Los Angeles, California this summer.

In short, the experience was: intense, uplifting, transformational, tough, playful and incredibly inspiring.

Annie has worn many hats in her life: a former dancer and teacher for the Martha Graham Dance Company of NYC, a therapist with a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, a devoted meditation practitioner, a dedicated Iyengar yoga student, and a committed Ashtanga yogi who practiced primary, second and third series. Annie’s love of vinyasa and alignment inspired her to create SmartFlow yoga.

My first drop-in class with Annie Carpenter was amazing. Even though it was a drop-in class, it had sold out days in advanced and the room was bustling with more than 100 yogis. It was quite incredible to see so many of LA’s top-notch yoga teachers and dedicated yoga students from varying backgrounds: Ashtanga, Iyengar and Vinyasa all coming together under one roof to take class with Annie.  The class completely kicked my butt; I left a little shaky but at the same time felt uplifted, stable and connected. After training with her this summer, I have never been stronger and more inspired in my yoga practice.

There are five big things that stood out strongly in her training:

1. Yoga ‘Nerd-ism’.  Annie is a yoga nerd (I obviously mean this is in the most awesome way possible). It is so uplifting to see someone who is so interested in all the facets of yoga: the physical, the energetic and theoretical. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so passionate about philosophy, anatomy, biomechanics, alignment, pranayama, meditation and asana (the physical postures of yoga).

2.  Grace and Strength. I would say that the dancer is still very much alive in Annie. To watch her move, at the age of fifty-seven, with such power, strength, precision and flexibility is inspiring.

3.  Intelligence and Knowledge. Everything Annie teaches has been considered, researched and experienced personally over years of practice. I had many questions, and Annie always had an articulate and well-explained answer to each and every one of my questions. She is very skilled at bridging the gap between theory and practice.

4. Ron’s yoga sister. I feel like Ron Reid is Annie’s yoga brother, I don’t know why but for some reason it seems to make sense in my head ha-ha. Maybe its because they have a similar love of alignment and yoga, yet are still very different and unique in there approach and teaching. Maybe its because they both inspire and teach me so much. Either way they are both incredible teachers and I firmly believe they complement each other beautifully.

5. Excellence as a teacher. Annie is not afraid to share her shortcomannie carpenterings and the lessons she’s learned over her life so that her students can better understand certain concepts. She teaches in a way that inspires you to work hard, while always being respectful of where you are. She is direct and intense as well as compassionate, loving and playful.  She knows when to be dynamic and engaging and when to slow things down. Every class I have been to of hers, I have always felt seen and safely challenged. Most importantly you can tell she loves teaching and learning, and as a result she keeps her instruction creative to ensure the student is engaged and understands.

When I returned home from Los Angeles, and resumed teaching in Toronto, I was surprised by how many students came up to me after classes or sent me emails saying, “Wow Duncan, I can tell you have really grown and matured as a teacher”, “I learned so much”, “you are a teacher’s teacher.” etc.

I am happy and grateful to call Annie one of my teachers, and I look forward to doing many more trainings, retreats, and classes with her in the future. She is a gifted teacher, a strong woman, and a beautiful human being.

More about Duncan 

Duncan Parviainen is one of Canada’s youngest and most highly trained Yoga Teachers.    He teaches at many studios around the city and we are excited to have him teach the Thursday 7:30pm Level 2 class for the month of September.

You can find out more about Duncan here: www.duncanyoga.ca